Romeo and Juliet: structure

Romeo and Juliet: structure

Play Structure and Progression

  • Romeo and Juliet” is written as a drama, specifically a tragedy, where the main characters are subjected to disastrous events.
  • The play is organised into five acts, a typical structure of Shakespearean plays.
  • The first act sets up the conflict between the two families (the Montagues and the Capulets), and introduces the protagonists (Romeo and Juliet). Romeo, heartbroken due to his unresponded love for Rosaline, is convinced to attend a party by Mercutio, his friend.
  • Act two revolves around the blooming relationship between Romeo and Juliet after they meet at the aforementioned party, with them agreeing to secretly tie the knot the next day.
  • The third act is significant as it includes the climax of the play—unexpected twists. Mercutio, Romeo’s rash pal, is slain by Tybalt, Juliet’s relative. As an act of retaliation, Romeo kills Tybalt, which leads to his banishment from Verona. Simultaneously, Juliet is coerced into marrying Paris.
  • Act four portrays Juliet taking drastic steps to dodge her upcoming nuptials with Paris. She takes a potion that makes her seem dead, leading Romeo, who is oblivious to the scheme, into believing she is truly dead.
  • The final act takes the audience through the conclusion of the play, where Romeo kills Paris, ingests a lethal poison due to his belief that Juliet is dead, and lies by her. Juliet wakes up to find Romeo deceased, leading her to take her own life. The tragic demise of the young lovers leads to the end of the feud between the Montagues and Capulets.

Attainment of Themes and Symbolism

  • Arguably, each act puts forth a specific theme or symbol, such as the poison signifying both, the passion between Romeo and Juliet, and their fateful death in Act 5.
  • The plot unveils linearly with events occurring chronologically, although there is a flashback when Romeo recollects his dream.
  • The structure of the play is integral to analyse, as it impacts the plot’s progression, the characters’ development, as well as the fruition of several themes and symbols throughout the play.

Language and Poetic Devices

  • Undoubtedly, Shakespeare’s use of language, particularly poetic devices like metaphors and personification, along with his use of iambic pentameter, conveys the characters’ emotions and thoughts powerfully to the audience. He employs soliloquies to provide insight into the characters’ minds.